A dance company is making “subtle but important” changes to its upcoming production of The Nutcracker as part of its commitment to tackling racism in ballet.
Scottish Ballet said the Chinese and Arabian-inspired scenes in the Land of Sweets will have updated costumes and choreography to “remove elements of caricature” and better represent the culture and traditions which have inspired them.
Christopher Hampson, Scottish Ballet’s artistic director, said “rectifying inappropriate cultural stereotypes” will add to the heritage of the production, originally choreographed by Scottish Ballet founder Peter Darrell in 1972.
Meanwhile the character of the magician Drosselmeyer will be played by both male and female dancers in this tour of the production, which opens at the Festival Theatre in Edinburgh on December 1.
Mr Hampson, who is also the dance company’s chief executive, said: “At Scottish Ballet we want to drive anti-racism, clear and simple. If we see racist stereotypes or if we hear about racism within the ballet world, it must be addressed.
“The Nutcracker was created in 1972, when it was acceptable to represent other cultures through imitation. If we are representing a culture, it’s important that we have done our due diligence to ensure it is done so authentically.
“By rectifying inappropriate cultural stereotypes, we’re adding to the production’s heritage and making it richer.
“Art must evolve to speak to our times, which is why our Drosselmeyer will be played by male and female dancers.
“I made this change after considering who our heroes are in ballets, and it struck me that there was nothing about this role that suggested only a man could deliver it.”
The Nutcracker returns to the stage this winter in our biggest ever tour 🍬❄️
74 performances across six cities? Bring. It. On. 👇https://t.co/eiZN0KeIx6
— Scottish Ballet (@scottishballet) November 5, 2021
Scottish Ballet said that in the era of the Black Lives Matter movement, it has made the commitment to tackling racism within the industry by becoming a more visible, active ally to people and organisations who have demonstrated a sustained commitment to the cause.
The company said it is committed to removing racist stereotypes from ballet and has been reviewing its own repertoire, past and present, to do so.
It stated: “As part of our sustained commitment to drive anti-racism in ballet, and to ensure The Nutcracker remains relevant today and for the future, we are making subtle but important changes to some of the costumes, choreography and characters.”
Last year Scottish Ballet reviewed its production of The Snow Queen and said it found there was an opportunity to better represent Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) culture within the work.
It said changes will be made the next time the production returns to the stage, and it has made changes to the portrayal of GRT characters from The Snow Queen who featured in its festive feature film The Secret Theatre.
The Nutcracker will tour Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, Aberdeen, Newcastle and Belfast between December and February.